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Svindal is first Norwegian to take men's downhill gold

Svindal is first Norwegian to take men's downhill gold

Olympic downhill events are rarely won by favourites but Svindal, Jansrud and Feuz were all expected to challenge for places on the podium during the showpiece race. The world champion - and the standout racer of the classic World Cup downhills in January - was 0.18 behind Svindal's winning time of 1 minute, 40.25 seconds.

The marquee race, postponed from Sunday because of high winds, is known as the ultimate test of raw speed, although the downhill thrills had been somewhat diluted on a course judged too tame by some of skiing's daredevils.

Jansrud said: "Being a small team and having two out of three guys succeed and grabbing the top two spots is a pretty good percentage". "I knew I had to do something special today to catch up and it nearly worked out according to plan", he said.

The stocky Feuz had grabbed the 2017 world downhill title at St Moritz earlier this season and came into his second Games with wins at Garmisch, Wengen and Lake Louise. "Aksel has been hurt several times and he's still extremely risky".

The big Norwegian trailed Feuz by 0.23 at halfway but then mastered the lower section.

The 32-year-old knew he had blown it and his body language after crossing the line contrasted starkly with a visible sigh of relief from Svindal waiting under the scoreboard. "So I guess this is the beginning of the end somehow". "I'm just happy with how I executed".

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Sochi gold medallist Matthias Mayer of Austria finished well off the pace in ninth, continuing the "curse" of the downhill which has seen no one repeat as champion in the 70 years of Olympic competition.

However, Svindal produced a spectacular finish - his times in intermediates four and five ranked second - to go top. "I think it's incredible what he's achieved".

Svindal has been one of the dominant speed skiers of his generation with multiple world titles and World Cup crowns as well as Olympic super-G gold, downhill silver and giant slalom bronze in Vancouver in 2010.

"Being at the Olympics and competing for gold, for me at least, those feelings are way stronger than any history ever written", he added.

"I think I pushed just to the right amount and felt fast", said the new Olympic champion, who never led at a time split until the finish.